Our virtual exhibition step by step

Based on our experience, here, step by step, is how we proceeded to create this virtual tour from an exhibition presented in the gallery.

A brief history

The Collège des Trois-Rivières was founded in May 1860. For nearly 15 years, it welcomed students in a rented building that had served as a military barracks on the Platon.

In 1873, the institution had to move, and construction began on the diocesan seminary, which opened its doors in 1874. Its architecture led everyone to call it the “Seminary with Turrets.”

In 1877, historian and Trois-Rivières native Benjamin Sulte publicly launched the idea of the need for a museum in Trois-Rivières. The idea caught on. At the time, nothing could equal the trust of the population in an institution like a seminary. The museum was therefore born on July 12, 1882, since we can trace the very first donation from the public to that date. At first, the museum was called the Museum of Antiquities and Curiosities.

Our museum is therefore the oldest private museum still active in Quebec.

Then, the Seminary had to expand. Construction began in 1927. When the expansion was almost ready, a fire that occurred in November 1929 destroyed the Seminary with Turrets. The museum lost nearly everything in the disaster.

The architects had to revise the plans and expand again.

The museum was set up under the dome of the new all-granite construction completed in 1929.

On July 17, 1934, the museum took the name of Pierre Boucher (1622-1717), thus paying tribute to the ancestor of an extraordinary benefactor, Montarville Boucher de La Bruère, who donated an impressive collection of documents and family heirlooms to the Seminary.

The Musée Pierre-Boucher, incorporated since 1975, has since been a non-profit organization. The museum now has over 28,000 heritage objects or works of art in its collections.


The “140 Art & Fact Links” exhibition, presented in the gallery from November 28, 2021, to March 13, 2022, designed and prepared for several months, highlighted the 140th anniversary of the museum.

Then, the pandemic came around to spoil the party. The museum had to close its doors to visitors between December 21, 2021, and January 10, 2022.

Unfortunately, the established programming did not allow us to extend the duration of this exhibition. We therefore had to find a way to continue its distribution. The solution: turn it into a virtual tour!


Step 1 : Inspiration, reflection, and evaluation

We took the time to evaluate the relevance and challenges of transforming our exhibition presented in person into an exhibition that would be available virtually on the internet.

The main challenges of producing a virtual exhibition are the same as for an in-person exhibition. They are primarily financial.

It was necessary to anticipate the costs related :

  • to labour (research, writing, administration, taking photos, communications, promotion, etc.)

  • contracts with specialized companies (such as a web agency for the design, conceptualization, and layouts)

  • the contract with a linguistic revision and/or translation firm, if applicable

  • the short-, medium-, and long-term hosting of the exhibition

  • of advertising

  • the official launch of the exhibition and the press conference

  • maintenance; and updating

We did not have the budget for such an adventure. We had to find financing.

Step 2 : Financing


Each year, the Musée Pierre-Boucher | art + history holds its recruitment or membership renewal campaign with its member-friends. But for a project of this scale, the amounts collected were insufficient.

We therefore turned to around twenty private companies, specifically with the aim of raising awareness of contributing to the realization of our project. Some answered the call with generosity. We thank Hydro-Québec, Nouvel Horizon Portes et fenêtres, and Centre funéraire Rousseau in Trois-Rivières for their support. We are extremely grateful to them.

The museum also thanks the Fondation des Amis du Séminaire Saint-Joseph and the Corporation du Séminaire Saint-Joseph, which contribute financially or through services to the mission of the Musée Pierre-Boucher | art + history.

However, we still had to find a more significant source of financing. We turned to programs offered by the federal government. In the context of the Museums Assistance Program, the Digital Access to Heritage component was available. We submitted an application. To do this, we had to estimate all our human resources, material, and financial needs.

In terms of human resources alone, we had to evaluate the resources available internally and estimate all the tasks to be performed, and therefore allow for additional resources. Of course, we had to estimate the cost for each position (hourly wages, number of hours, estimate the employer’s share and fringe benefits, etc.).

We have also established our own financial contribution to the project, mainly by specifying the salary shares of the curator and general manager and a project manager-researcher (hundreds of volunteer hours estimated in contribution value), a photographer and a museology technician. We had to estimate a budget for the linguistic revision of the texts. We chose to proceed with a call for tenders to estimate these costs. We also had to think about estimating the translation costs, because our main funder was the federal government, which requires subsidized products to be available in both of Canada’s official languages.

We selected the SLRR Translation Firm in Quebec City for the revision and translation of the texts.

Contracts for graphic design (design and data integration on the virtual exhibition platform), 360° image capture for a dozen exhibits, audio production and promotion were awarded to Bécancour-based Web agency Zanicom.

With respect to material resources, we had to provide the necessary equipment, particularly in terms of IT: computers, monitors, USB keys, external hard drive, etc.

We sought advice from an IT technician to better orient our needs and make our choices.

We also had to provide the equipment for taking digital photographs of the pieces, including the purchase of a high-quality digital camera, memory cards, a tripod, light fixtures, etc.

According to the established criteria, we were able to produce a budget that presented all the income and expenses of the project.

It should also be noted that there are municipal bodies, cultural groups in museology, and web agencies that offer to guide you from the ideation of the project, and which are willing to support you in finding financing and to help you set up the financial framework of your project, without any obligation.

The entire project of the Musée Pierre-Boucher | art + history was therefore estimated at $248,000. We received a substantial amount of just over $150,000 from Canadian Heritage over two fiscal years (2022-2023, 2023-2024). The museum therefore wishes to reiterate that this project was made possible mainly thanks to the Government of Canada.

Step 3 : Work plan and timeline


Our work plan went through an exhaustive reflection regarding the various tasks to be completed, as well as an identification of the logical order in which these tasks would be performed.

We planned everything according to the most realistic timeline possible. We created our work plan using an Excel file. This allowed us to note the different steps in the process on 53 different lines. Each task listed was colour coded for ease of identification. In the following column, on each of the corresponding lines, the identification of the position of the person who had to perform this task or who was responsible for it could be found. The same colour was used on this line to identify the place in time, in the spaces provided on the calendar (columns spread over 18 months); each square corresponded to a week.

Fortunately, we had agreed on a timeline that left room for a little flexibility.

This work plan proved very useful, facilitating the quick identification of advances, progress, or delays with respect to the deadlines throughout the process.

Step 4 : Approach and selection of a web agency


We had specified on paper the main orientations that we wanted to give to the finished product. Not being experts, we kept in mind that some of our ideas may not be possible.

We then identified some names of agencies that were likely to offer the services that we needed.

We requested bids from around ten agencies, based on the elements mentioned in our document, which set out the desired directions. We then selected three agencies that met our criteria.

We asked to meet with them. The important factors for us were their experience and their portfolio. Other criteria also motivated our choices. We wanted to see with each one if their ways of doing things put us at ease and if they clearly understood what we wanted. We wanted there to be affinities to work with the members of the team. As we knew that we would have several discussions remotely, by email, as well as in-person meetings over the course of the project, it seemed essential to us to be comfortable expressing both the successes as well as our apprehensions or differences of opinion, if applicable, and to trust that our wishes would be taken into account.

We retained the services of the Zanicom agency in Bécancour.

Step 5 : Choice of works of art and heritage objects


As our project aimed to reproduce and make virtually accessible a large portion of the items exhibited in the “140 Art & Fact Links” exhibition presented in person, it was still necessary to make choices.

The indoor exhibition featured almost 500 works of art and heritage objects, as well as three slide shows; It was impossible to take everything;

We have selected around 200 works or objects; As for the number of images, they are more numerous, because some works or objects are represented by more than one digital image.

Step 6 : Research, writing, and validation of the content


Once the selection of the heritage objects or works of art was complete, we re-examined the content of the information available on each of the selected pieces.

Without jeopardizing the project, we underestimated the time that all this additional research would take to substantiate the context, biographies, or history of the objects or works.

A virtual tour allows more information to be presented. As we were no longer limited in terms of space to describing a piece on a small plaque, which too often only includes a title, a date, and the name of the artist or owner of an object, this virtual exhibition informs the reader with more details about the work, the origin of the object, and a short biography of the artist or the former owner of the heritage object.

This more in-depth research, the writing of additional descriptive content, and the more advanced contextualization have enhanced our knowledge of our collections. Certain links between the selected works and objects were discovered or deepened. This research enriched the data that we had on these museum pieces, which allowed us to substantiate several of the “140 Art & Fact Links” that exist between several of the items in our museum collection.

As visitors, you too will be able to benefit from these additional informative details.

Step 7 : Taking digital photographs


Despite their undeniable testimonial value, some heritage objects may be damaged. Some works of art may also have lost their former beauty. Regardless, we opted for high-quality digital images. We favoured .jpg (.jpeg) format and a resolution ranging from 300 to 600 dpi.

The works of art and heritage objects were first photographed before the in-person exhibition was taken down. We wanted to preserve the context of the initial presentation. We took photographs of all the content in the galleries, certain collections of pieces in display cases, everything on the walls, etc.

Several works of art or heritage objects where the quality of the digital photograph taken during this step was insufficient were photographed again, out of context.

Each digital image was then duly named and identified according to an identification code for each piece or work depicted, inspired by the code appearing in the museum’s collection database.

For the needs of the programmers from the web agencies, certain specifics must be respected. An identification such as 1985 200 F was therefore translated into 1985_200_F.jpg for the purposes of importing the images.

It is important that these specifics are provided by the agency as early as possible in the process to avoid any unnecessary work and comply with technological requirements.

Step 8 : Presentation of the graphic model drafts and selection of the model


Discussions were initiated during in-person meetings with the Zanicom team, particularly with Sylvain Guimond, director, Marianne Chassé and Jany Descôteaux, project managers, Gabriel Lépine, consultant, and Sylvain Sarrazin, designer and web integrator. We would like to thank Cédrik Lesage, programmer, who resolved many of the issues and challenges raised during this project. 

Two graphic models were suggested to us for the transformation of our exhibition into a virtual tour.

We had the opportunity to ask questions and request clarifications. We quickly made a choice between the two options offered, while suggesting a few adjustments.

Besides the main model developed for the presentation of the virtual exhibition, our project stands out through the addition of a Making of component. In the menu space, fifteen steps are briefly related to you, accompanied by a few photographs.

Step 9 : Taking of the 360-degree images


On a particularly sweltering day in July 2023, it was time to take 360-degree images of a dozen pieces from our collections. These animated images, integrated into the virtual tour, make it possible to punctuate the visitor’s journey with works of art or heritage objects that are unveiled by revealing their shape to you, all the way around.

These pieces include an Inuit parka (ca. 1930) that had belonged to Louis-Philippe Martel (1883-1981), a statue produced ca. 1890 depicting St. Aloysius de Gonzaga (1544-1586), a sculpture produced ca. 1950 by Jean-Julien Bourgault depicting a vagrant named “Bisoute,” two plaster busts produced by artist Onésime Lamothe (1893-1979) depicting Father Albert Tessier (1895-1976) and Zouave Gédéon Désilets (1845-1922), the midnight-blue velvet wedding dress and its fascinator worn by Yvonne Germain de Montigny (1935), the first sign from the J. B. Loranger hardware store in Trois-Rivières (1908) in the shape of a squirrel, the gold watch from Majorique Bordeleau (1869-1954) brought back from Dawson City in 1902, and the bronze bust (1969) produced by Henri Bordeleau depicting artist/painter Léo Ayotte (1909-1976). As for the pillory with two constraints from the Trois-Rivières prison (ca. 1818), the sign attributed to Louis Jobin (1845-1928) depicting a white sheep (1887) and ordered by Edmond Lord (1855-1911), a native of Trois-Rivières, and the cannon from the Association des Zouaves de Trois-Rivières (1907), they were photographed or filmed in a professional setting without necessarily being able to be seen from all sides.

All these pieces were taken out of storage in advance and stored in a cool place in a room adjacent to the Grand Salon to be cleaned and prepared for this photo shoot.

Our experts, Sylvain Guimond, a videographer and director from Zanicom, and Francis Bellerive, a photographer, gathered in the Grand Salon of the Seminary, which is fortunately equipped with an air conditioner. A very full day!

Many other steps are necessary until these images can be put online. We trust the professionals completely.

On our side, we once again have to store all these objects and works in their respective place in our storage room.

Step 10 : Integration of the data, correction, and adjustments


To allow for the integration of the descriptive data for each piece in the virtual exhibition, we had to follow the advice of the experts from the web agency, who are familiar with the specifics and requirements related to the technological processes of data integration.

At this stage, we had the majority of the texts in hand, which were revised and translated by the team from SLRR Translation Firm. We worked with Raphaël Poirier, project manager and partner.

All the texts in Word format had to be incorporated into an Excel file according to strict rules. Indeed, to allow for the transfer of information and the integration of data in specific places determined in the model, the web agency provided us with an Excel file (Google Sheets) into which we copied and pasted all the texts. One line, one piece. One line, one piece. Columns for the French texts, columns for the English texts.

Columns were intended to accommodate location ratings (identification numbers), dates of pieces, identifying themes, and other specifications that we wanted to appear.

This sheet also contained a column for entering the identification number(s) of the scanned images related to each piece. All the images were sent in a .jpg image folder via WeTransfer. Each digital image had to be identified in exactly the same way; each with its own identification number to ensure perfect integration. A little like the rest, this step required a great deal of care and attention. It was therefore necessary to plan to grant these tasks the required time.

This is without taking into account that difficulties could arise unexpectedly. For example, when copying and pasting, we noticed that when a portion of a text was written in italics initially in the Word document, these italicized words changed to normal font once they were copied and pasted. Once the text had been pasted, it was therefore necessary to convert the parts of the text that had to appear in italics as we went along.

In addition, during the integration process, another difficulty arose. The designer/integrator found duplicates, especially in the titles. The titles that caused problems were specified to us, and we were asked to modify them to avoid any integration complications. For example, the coins, five in number, required clarifications in their title. We also had to modify the titles of the watches, baptismal outfits, and snuffboxes.

When entering the list of identification numbers for the digital images, great attention was paid, especially to the accuracy of the sequences of letters and numbers that make up our identification numbers for the pieces, as well as to the positioning of the periods, commas, and spaces.

Once this data had been copied and pasted then transmitted via this spreadsheet, a first test was conducted from around twenty elements; we kept our fingers crossed that there were not too many bugs. the data integration was set up for the whole project, a process that took around ten weeks.

Once this step was complete, the product was made available to us via a private site. We had to revise, proofread, and carefully examine the content, note any changes to be made, and prepare a detailed list of the modifications that needed to be made. We had to set aside at least five days. It goes without saying that two pairs of eyes are better than one!

It was also time to call on friends or acquaintances. They provided their comments on the form and content. A list containing a detailed description of all the corrections, suggestions, or questions was then forwarded to the agency, which made the adjustments. Then, thanks to the expertise of Zanicom’s team members, including programmer Cédrik Lesage, the final corrections were made to ensure that everything was perfect;

Step 11 : Online release and hosting contract


The official launch of the virtual exhibition was scheduled for the beginning of August 2023, but had to be postponed until the beginning of November 2023, due to a number of technological and other unforeseen circumstances, legitimate given the scale and complexity of such a project;

A contract for hosting the virtual tour website has been negotiated for five years;

Step 12 : Official launch


The official launch of the virtual exhibition deserved an official ceremony accompanied by a press conference.

To determine the date and time of this ceremony, we chose a day of the week and a time of day that would promote the presence of both journalists and our guests.

We have reserved the room and planned our technological equipment needs to enable the public demonstration of the virtual tour; We determined the schedule for the ceremony, particularly the speaking order of the guests of honour.

We drew up a draft press release. This press release was then submitted to our main funder, the Department of Canadian Heritage, for approval. At the same time, we asked them to add a quotation from the Minister of Canadian Heritage, the Honourable Pascale St-Onge.

Once approved, the press release was forwarded to SLRR Translation Firm for revision and translation so that it would be available in French and English.

We have invited Mrs. Pascale St-Onge to this ceremony; Although grateful for the invitation, Ms. St-Onge could not be with us due to a very busy schedule. She sent us a brief message of encouragement, which we shared in our press release.

We entrusted the honorary presidency to Ms. Mariette Bergeron, a loyal member/friend of the museum as well as the daughter of a donor of a precious object highlighted in the exhibition.

We prepared and refined the list of guests and members of the media.

The Zanicom firm entrusted the design of the invitation card to Jean-François Isabel, a graphic designer. For an exhibition containing such a wide variety of works of art and heritage objects, it seemed difficult to highlight only a single piece to define the whole. To allow for consistency in the identification and promotion of the virtual exhibition, therefore, Zanicom and their designers developed a concept consisting of several images that—together—would represent the exhibition. The invitation card was available in both official languages. The logos of our financial partners appeared on the invitation. A bilingual version of the invitation was also produced so that the invitations could also be sent by email.

On launch day, our guests, partners, journalists, member-friends and museum staff were treated to a demonstration of the final product by Zanicom CEO Sylvain Guimond;

We took care to take several photos during the event.

Step 13 : Marketing and promotion


The Musée Pierre-Boucher | art + history is pleased and obliged to share this virtual tour as widely as possible. Furthermore, the day after the official launch, the bilingual press release was duly forwarded to the main French and English media outlets across Canada.

Several elements related to the promotion of the site were entrusted to the team from Zanicom, cybermarketing experts.

The advertising campaign was planned for September-October, to be implemented as soon as the launch took place in November; Then, after a break in December for the holiday season, the campaign resumed in January, February, and March 2024.

In particular, the marketing campaign included the creation of advertising creatives (eye-catching images and text), the creation of advertising sets according to the target audience, follow-up, advertising placements on radio and television, social media posts, etc.

We were particularly targeting the population of Trois-Rivières, the Mauricie and Centre-du-Québec regions, but also those elsewhere in Quebec. It was mainly press releases sent to the various electronic media that reached audiences in other Canadian provinces and territories.

Beyond the audiences and potential customers, we specifically forwarded and shared the link providing access to our virtual exhibition with Indigenous groups and communities, young people aged 12 to 25 via high schools, universities, and Cégeps, art lovers, museums or museum societies, as well as history and heritage enthusiasts, including genealogy or historical societies.

We made efforts to reach audiences internationally.

Step 14 : Credits, acknowledgements, and partner logos


Our project would not have been possible without the support or contribution of several people and organizations.

The main funder for the realization of this project is the Government of Canada via the Department of Canadian Heritage. This department is acknowledged here, and the contribution of the Government of Canada to our project is highlighted in the Menu under Credits and Acknowledgements. The official logo of the Government of Canada is published there. We would also like to acknowledge the valuable contribution of the staff of this department, who believed in our project and knew how to guide us throughout the adventure. We sincerely thank them.

Other companies contributed to the success of the project. We warmly thank each of our financial partners: the Fondation des Amis du Séminaire Saint-Joseph de Trois-Rivières, the Corporation du Séminaire Saint-Joseph de Trois-Rivières (also in services), Hydro-Québec, Nouvel Horizon Portes et Fenêtres, as well as the Centre funéraire Rousseau. Each of these organizations or companies is identified with its logo in the menu under the Credits and Acknowledgements tab.

Our partners in this ambitious adventure are SLRR Translation Firm, from Quebec City, and Zanicom, a cybermarketing agency, from Bécancour, as well as their amazing respective teams. They deserve our most sincere thanks. We commend their professionalism, their successful ideas, and their insight. We are proud to have been able to benefit from their great skills. Their contribution is also highlighted in the menu under the Credits and Acknowledgements tab.

Thank you to all our members/friends who made this project a reality through their annual membership fees or generous donations.

Finally, thank you to each member of the small team from the Musée Pierre-Boucher | art + history, without forgetting our volunteers, who, at one time or another, were involved in this project. Their names appear in the menu under the Credits and Acknowledgements tab along with a mention of the responsibilities entrusted to them: tasks performed with brilliance, friendliness, and dynamism.

Thank you again to all those who made it possible, through their efforts, support, and involvement, to bring these “140 Art & Fact Links” to life in virtual mode.

Step 15 : Reports and summary


It goes without saying that sequential activity and financial reports as well as a final report were produced, particularly those required to comply with the contribution agreement with the federal government.

The budget was followed scrupulously, while certain tasks to be performed, including publicity and marketing, required the revision of certain deadlines. We are grateful to the staff from the Department of Canadian Heritage, which granted us a few budget adjustments as well as an extension of a few months to allow us to meet our objectives, particularly in terms of advertising and promoting the end product to a wide audience.

As a summary, one thing is certain: it is thanks to the hard work carried out by a dedicated and formidable team that this ambitious project could become a reality.

It is now up to you to enjoy the journey and learn more about these works of art or heritage objects selected to be highlighted through these “140 Art & Fact Links” in virtual mode.

Enjoy your visit!

Andrée Brousseau

Curator and executive director

Musée Pierre-Boucher | art + history
858, Laviolette street
Trois-Rivières, Québec